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South East England

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The South-East of England [1] is one of the most-visited regions of England and the United Kingdom, being situated around the English capital city of London and located closest to mainland Europe. Together with London, the South-East represents the main economic powerhouse of the country and is one of the most densely-populated of the English regions. The region holds much of interest to the traveller, from varied landscapes to historical towns and cities.

Map of South East England


The South East England region consists of the following counties (from top left):

West Sussex
East Sussex
Isle of Wight


South-East England has a number of major towns and cities of interest to the traveller. The following ten are of particular interest:

  • Brighton (East Sussex) - Super-trendy Brighton on the south coast boasts some of the best cultural events in the south-east outside London
  • Canterbury (Kent) - ancient walled city, home to England's most important cathedral
  • Dover (Kent) - gateway to England with historic castle and white cliffs
  • Hastings (East Sussex) - Historical seaside resort with cliffs and medieval old town
  • Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) - gateway to the Midlands, New Town architecture and home to Bletchley Park, an important site in the history of computing and the Second World War
  • Oxford (Oxfordshire) - the university city
  • Portsmouth (Hampshire) - the Waterfront City, home to Nelson's HMS Victory, and the UK's newest icon, the Spinnaker Tower
  • Southampton (Hampshire) - Thriving student city with excellent nightlife and shopping
  • Reading (Berkshire) - Just west of London and home to the annual Reading festival
  • Windsor (Berkshire) - location of Windsor Castle and Eton College

Note that, despite being the main city in south-eastern England, London is usually described as a region in its own right.

Other destinations[edit]

  • The Cotswolds - a range of rolling hills
  • The Chiltern Hills - another range of rolling hills
  • Waddesdon Manor - popular country manor in Buckinghamshire, an excellent example of neo-renaissance architecture in Britain
  • Hever Castle - childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and where Henry VIII spent his honeymoon(s)
  • Blenheim Palace - birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a World Heritage site
  • The New Forest - home to wild ponies, and not particularly new (William the Conqueror designated it a royal forest over 900 years ago)
  • The Thames[2] - it flows through more than just London. It goes through Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire to be precise
  • The Downs Sweeping through Hampshire and Sussex (the South Downs) and Surrey, Sussex and Kent these majestic hills are popular with walkers, cyclists and people trying to Escape London


Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The South of England is well serviced by air by virtue of sharing London's international and domestic airports and also Southampton International Airport

By train[edit]

The Eurostar [3] runs from mainland Europe to Ebbsfleet, Ashford and St. Pancras Station in London.
Services to and from the rest of the UK are good; with trains from the North through Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire and from the West (and Wales) to Berkshire and the South Coast.
London is never too far way

By boat[edit]

The South's major passenger ports are Dover (Boulogne and Calais), Portsmouth (Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre, St. Malo and Santander), Southampton (services to the Isle of Wight) and Newhaven (Dieppe).

Get around[edit]

By taxi[edit]

There are taxi firms everywhere (many are by booking only - find the phone number of the local company and phone ahead).

By bus[edit]

Every town has a bus service, although these are - confusingly - privatised and you will need to make sure you contact the right company for information. This does mean that when you get away from the bigger towns bus services very often tend to be limited or non existent.

  • Hampshire (Stagecoach) [4]
  • Isle of Wight (Southern Vectis) [5]
  • East and West Sussex (Stagecoach) [6]
  • Surrey, Kent and Sussex (Arriva) [7]
  • Surrey and East Sussex (Metrobus) [8]
  • East Kent (Stagecoach) [9]
  • Southampton area (Solent Blue Line) [10]
  • Southampton area (First) [11]
  • Brighton and Hove (Brighton & Hove) [12]
  • Hastings and Bexhill (Stagecoach) [13]
  • Eastbourne and Hailsham (Eastbourne) [14]

By car[edit]

The South-East has a very dense and usually easy-to-navigate road network. The M2, M3, M4, M20 and M23 motorways all connect the region radiating around London via the M25 peripheral road. Be aware that the M25 is nearly always busy, and there is congestion, sometimes severe, during the rush hours virtually every day.

As well as the M25, the M20 (the main motorway link between Dover and London) is occasionally clogged up by lorries, often due to French ferry workers going on strike. (Operation Stack is the name to listen out for on the radio if travelling). Other motorways that can get very congested at rush-hour include the M3 (connecting Southampton to London) and the M27 around Southampton and connecting the city with Portsmouth.

By train[edit]

England has one of the highest densities of railway lines per square mile in the world, so rail travel is a very viable option...but much of it dates back to the early 20th century and as such there are frequent train delays and cancellations due to engineering works. Also, signalling equipment breaking has become a common occurrence in recent years, with passengers placing the blame on the 1990s Privatisation, in which less money has been spent maintaining the infrastructure as frequently as before when the railways were publicly owned. These costs are passed on to the customer - be prepared for the most expensive tickets in Europe (per mile/km).

Be aware that the train lines in the South and South East are some of the busiest and most overcrowded in Britain, especially during the week day rush hours (7:00 to 9:00 and then 16:30 to 18:30). This is not only due to passenger numbers, but also train companies deciding to run the service on a shoestring, in which the trains are often too short for the most busiest routes. For example, the Ashford International to Brighton service is the most busiest, but only because its two carriages long when other less busy routes have at least four. Therefore, if possible and you are not prepared to stand for a long time, avoid this service and seek alternative routes.

Also buy tickets before boarding the train to avoid risking a nasty shock. Some guards can sell you tickets on the train, but others can issue a penalty fare, which are known as Revenue Protection Officers. It is not made clear by the uniforms these wear, apart from a badge bearing their name and job position which is hard to see at the best of times and when they approach you asking for tickets, it's too late. If your originating station has no ticket facilities, the guard has to sell you a ticket on board regardless. If the station is closed and the ticket self-serve machines are not in order, you will need to purchase a "Permit to Travel" from a coin-operated machine if available, which you then exchange on the train for a ticket.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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